Wind turbine masts could be made 30% lighter. This is according to meteorologist Dr Maarten Holtslag based on his doctoral research ‘Far offshore wind conditions in scope of wind energy’ in the AE faculty’s wind energy group. Vertical wind shear (fluctuations in wind speed according to altitude) and turbulence both cause fatigue in wind turbine blades, rotors and masts. However, and this is what makes the difference, they do not occur at full strength at the same time. If the wind shear is significant, turbulence is low, and vice-versa. Holtslag’s work is part of the FLOW (Far and Large Offshore Wind energy)
research programme that aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind by at least 20%.